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Need some help on identification of some wood.

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I moved into a new home and found a lot of lumber in the basement, apparently in all good condition. My challenge is I am struggling to identify what it is. The person who owned the house before me was a wood carver, so most of this lumber is comprised of exotic woods. 


The picture below is of a 14" long blank, about 1.375" thick. I have run it through the joiner on one side and then planed it. All of the lumber I have is rough sawn, so I will have to follow this process to make is usable.




I have several other types of wood in the lot I will post as this thread progresses, I would like to identify this sample first as I have over 30 linear feet of it, and is the majority of the lot.


Thank you in advance for your help!


- Tim

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Alan, thank you for your feedback, it is greatly appreciated!


I put it side by side with some cherry and it is different. I think it might be pear wood. It is hard to photograph with a cell phone camera and fully capture the quality of the wood.


- Tim

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Looks like it could be Mahogany or Madrone.  What is the grain like, open or closed?  Is it kind of soft or hard as a rock


Where are you located?






The grain is closed and it is very hard. I would say harder than red oak (I use that as a point of comparison as that is what I have worked with in the past for wood furniture projects). I am located in the Finger Lakes region of New York State.


- Tim

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Tim, these pictures are of a block of Yellow Pine (rough sawn) I got from a fellow woodcarver - it's also favored by woodcarvers - has a "new house construction smell"




I know it is not pine, it is a hard wood. But lightly brown / peachy colored with a tight grain.


I showed my Grandfather who still in his twilight years is an active carpenter, and even with his experience and wood identification books, we struck out on identification.


Whatever this stuff is, I have a lot of it. I also have a great deal of other exotic wood samples to post.  :(


Can you mill and use butternut for ship building? Anyone ever tried?


- Tim

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OK, I am going to muddy the water a little bit.


Sample 1: On the left is another blank of the same wood I have run through the planer. It is still rough-sawn. On the right, is the original blank I opened this post with that I have put through the joiner and the planer.




Sample 2: A carving blank of the same wood, from the same bin as the original piece. This picture is deceptive, as it looks like an open grained wood, but it has a closed grain and is a hard wood.




Sample 3: Some very red wood (Secretly hoping this is redheart).




Sample 4: Still the red hued wood, and a wood that looks almost violet.




Sample 5: A quick box of the various types of wood found in my basement.




I do need to state that the wood has taken on the odor of a more than a century old basement. Since the gentleman that purchased these passed away in 1999, these pieces of wood have been sitting down there untouched since then.


I apologize for the quality of the photographs. I am using a cell phone to take the pictures in a less than expert manner.


Thank you all for your help so far in helping me identify these various wood samples.


- Tim


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  • 5 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

I agree with Larry, Buck is pretty on the money.  The piece of cherry has what we call a light figure to the grain.  Given the lean to the cathedral, (the arc part of the grain), its from a curved portion of the tree, and might not appear to match the color of the more straight grained parts of other wood you report as being the same.  This is normal.


Take care of the moisture content of the wood.  Wood that has taken on an old basement smell has taken on the old basement dampness.  It will dry out as you remove it, and might be prone to some checking, end splits, etc.  Read up online about this.  (how to air dry lumber)


Enjoy your find!!



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Hi Tim,


I just wanted to add two cents to the discussion with a couple of pictures.


The first piece of wood that you asked about could potentially be pear.  I would find it hard to believe that a very experienced carpenter, your grandfather, could not identify it if it were actually Cherry.  Cherry being very easy for most people to identify if they have ever worked with wood.  That being said, stranger things have happened.


Here are a couple of pictures for example from my shop:



The top piece is Swiss Pear, the bottom larger piece is Cherry with a little bit of figure to the grain



Close Up of Swiss Pear



Close Up of Cherry



Rough Boards, Swiss Pear is the small piece, notice how tight the grain is in comparison


Also, the red piece of wood, I do believe to be Redheart.  Purpleheart, is as it's name implies, purple.  Also, Redheart has a very specific pattern to it's grain, which your piece of wood exhibits.  Again, in Pictures...








I hope that this helps and adds to the discussion





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Thank you. I think it was my grandfathers unfamiliarity with pear. He did think it was Cherry, but he admitted he had not worked with it much. He predominately works only with pine, poplar and oak.


I think most of the pieces I have are too small to mill. So it will necessitate me purchasing some strip and sheet stock when the time comes.  :)


- Tim

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